Wednesday, April 26, 2006

This morning (and thanks to the policy that allows sales people two drinks an hour for lunch probably the afternoon, too) most of the non-technical staff is out of the building enjoying free food while some manager-type talks to them about disaster recovery. Nothing too technical, just enough information to let them scare people into using our services.
I've decided to use this time to vent about the interview process, and one interview in particular that was so bad I turned down a job.
First, the kinds of places I'm interviewing I'm always over-dressed. Not that I could show up for an actual interview in jeans, but when I'm the only guy in the room in a tie I always feel like I'm playing dress up.
Secondly, the technical interview is never comfortable. Most troubleshooting questions come down to religious issues in the end, and what works for one person may not work for everyone else. In the case of this interview I (played by jacket and tie guy) was seated across the table from a group of six guys (played by jeans wearing bitter people) who took turns asking me things.
These were questions pretty much directly off the certification exam. Having passed that exam years ago, I was fairly sure my answers were correct. Then the interview broke.
One guy asked me what the local copy of the application database is called. My answer was "MF20.mdc, or something like that." I don't remember the exact file name (still don't) but it is one of two *.mdc files on every server running this product.
"Wrong," the guy said, "and I was looking for local host cache."
"That is the function, or description, or purpose of the file. The file is called MF20.mdc," I was pissed. Bad idea to argue in an interview, but I wasn't going to go down like a punk.
"No it isn't. The file name is RM20.mdc," he wouldn't drop it.
"The 'RM' in that file stands for 'Resource Manager'. It is in the same directory as the file that handles everything 'MetaFrame', which is MF20.mdc.," It was a matter of honor, now. Nothing else I could do.
I watched a fight at this point as four of the six people tore into each other like rabid weasels in a sack. Some agreed with me, some with the other guy. In the end, a Google search proved me right but that isn't the point. Well, not the whole point.
The point is that if a person is going to ask a technical question in an interview, he should freaking know the answer. AND the question should be worth something. A more useful question would be "How do you recreate the local host cache in the event of a failure?" or "If a server starts acting funny and you can't reboot it because people are on it, what would you do?"
The third strike was after the fight when they decided (Lord of the Flies style) that I would answer un-interrupted. They asked me to draw on the whiteboard a network design for remote access. I drew one. They stared.
I drew a second option. They continued to stare.
I drew a kitten.
"That isn't how we do it here."
"Ok. I don't have access to your policies documents. There are half a dozen ways it can be done depending on your standards. Tell me how you would do it."
"It doesn't matter, I guess."
I guess it didn't, because I was offered the job.
And I turned it down to take this job, because the other job looked like constant fire fighting and I had been assured that that would not be the case here. Lying bastards.
And I believed it, because sometimes the most important elements in the technical interview are non-technical. Since my interview there insiders have told me that the team did, in fact, implode shortly after my visit. As a result of my "this place is a trauma-fest" diagnosis they have actually changed the entire interview process to make it less confrontational. Too late for me, but maybe karma will help out in my current job search.
The last Windows admin here actually left to work for the company I declined a couple of months after "the incident". It is a very tiny tech world, and his interview was smooth and awesome.
Plans for today include stealing office supplies and writing profanity on the underside of my desk with a stolen Sharpie. The stolen Sharpie smells the sweetest, my friends.


Darrell Davis said...

another day in wonderland, your so lucky Alice.

Darrell Davis said...

Also I am starting to worry, you appear to be on the edge of a Don't be an F*cker moment. I hope today goes better than the last couple.